By Steve Patterson
CHESTER, PA. (CBS) – None of them are old enough to drink or vote or drive, but many middle school students in Chester have seen things most could only imagine.
“Drug deals, murders,” said 8th grader T’kel Brown. “Living in my neighborhood is very dangerous, so I have to be careful.”
Drugs, violence, murder are common coverage topics for the media in Chester. Worse, they can be common sights for kids in neighborhoods worn and left to rot.
“I heard some of them right outside my window,” said 14-year-old Vatangoe Donzo. “It was scary, and I was at least 10 or 11 when it happened. I don’t think it should ever happen to a kid my age again.”
These things are part of the reason why administrators at Chester Community Charter, the largest K-8 charter school in Pennsylvania, held a “Teen Summit” forum, where students discussed how grow and fix their community on top of school issues like building confidence, gaining respect, and social media conflict resolution.
“We’re having a forum today where children can express themselves in a positive way with adult supervision,” said the school’s CEO David Clark. “There are no excuses to say ‘we can’t control the families’ or ‘we can’t control the parents.’ There’s no excuse. We’re responsible.”
The forum lasted an hour and featured Grammy Award-nominated Producer Carvin Haggins, who came back to remind students that prosperity is possible, even for those from poor and dangerous environments.
“We have to do everything we can in our power to make sure that when the child does go home, they can make the right decisions,” Clark said. “That they have the tools to make the right decisions, because that’s what it’s all about.”